John McMurtry, author of The Cancer Stage of Capitalism (Pluto, 2013) has published an article entitled Corporate Child Abuse: The Unseen Global Epidemic. The article discusses how children are being let down by corporate society.
He begins with a quote from Nelson Mandela:
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul”, Nelson Mandela says, “than the way in which it treats its children”.
Who would disagree?
Yet today children may be assaulted, diseased, or killed by pervasive corporate drugs, junk-foods and beverages, perverted by mindless violence in multiple modes, deployed as dead-end labour with no benefits, and then dumped into a corporate future of debt enslavement and meaningless work. How could this increasing systematic abuse be publicly licensed at every level? What kind of society could turn a blind eye to its dominant institutions laying waste the lives of the young and humanity’s future itself?
And then expands on his point:
The abuse is built into the system. All rights of child care-givers themselves – from parent workers to social life support systems – are written out of corporate ‘trade’ treaties which override legislatures to guarantee “investor profits” as their sole ruling goal. Children are at the bottom, and most dispossessed by the life-blind global system. The excuse of “more competitive conditions” means, in fact, a race to the bottom of wages and benefits for families, social security, debt-free higher education, and protections against toxic environments to which the young are most vulnerable. At the same time, escalating sales of junk foods, malnutrition, and cultural debasement propel the sole growth achieved – ever more money demand at the top.
McMurtry then talks about how there is no public regulation good enough for the widespread use of “multiplying junk foods, pharma drugs, and life-destructive entertainments”:
In response to commodity diseases from skyrocketing obesity and unfitness to unprecedented youth depression and psychic numbing to violence, almost no public life standards of what is pushed to the young are allowed into the super-lucrative market. Even while children’s growing consumption of multiplying junk foods, pharma drugs, and life-destructive entertainments addict them to what may in the end ruin their lives, preventative life standards are furiously lobbied against. As Joel Bakan’s Childhood Under Siege/ How Big Business Targets Your Children shows, the systemic abuse is ignored, denied and blocked against public regulation. Even with deadly diabetes by junk foods and beverages and hormonal disruption and body poisoning by the countless untested chemicals, materials and drugs fed into their lives, the young find no protection from this systematic and growing corporate abuse, not even mandatory package information to prevent their still rising profitable disorders of body and mind.
He then turns to other literature to explain that children need public protection from “corporation psychopath”:
Bakan’s classic film and book, The Corporation, has revealed step by step the “corporation as psychopath”. Professor of law as well as parent, he recalls the “overarching idea” of modern civilization which has been aggressively pushed aside: “that children and childhood need the kind of public protection and support that only society could offer” (p. 164). Now he observes, the big corporations are “free to – – pitch unhealthy ideas and products- – to pressure scientists and physicians to boost sales of their psychotropic drugs – – – to turn children’s environments – indeed their very bodies – into toxic stews – – and to profit from school systems increasingly geared to big business” (p. 164). Horrendous hours and hazards of child labour are what has long attracted attention, and Bakan reports that these are returning today (e.g., pp. 129-38).
To read the article in full, click here.
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“McMurtry’s vision is a panoramic, encyclopedic, and breathtakingly original one, imbued with both high reason and (com)passion. And for the few amongst us that can still savour such delicacies, it is heady elixir indeed.”
Professor Rajani K. Kanth, Fellow, Harvard University
“Any entity that defines itself through exponential growth, be it a cancer tumour, the financial system or a run-away nuclear reaction, can only have one outcome: catastrophic failure with the sole chance of survival being the recognition of and response to the disorder. McMurtry provides both the diagnosis and antidote for this current state of our world.”
Marcel Schlaf, Professor of Chemistry, University of Guelph